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· Registered
41 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone,

I had posted about a 2001 Black Focus zx3 that I was looking at buying and well on Friday, went out and bought it. Pics to follow btw!!!

So its a standard, 5speed, zx3 and has roughly 158,000km on it.

So I've been driving it pretty rough which probably isn't that greatest idea, but I love my car is all I can say. I'm a student with a relatively tight budget and will hopefully be working in a few weeks or so but for now...

What should I do for my car, not really intending on modding it just yet. I was thinking about putting synthetic oil in? Its due for an oil change soon and I really don't know how often it was changed, the color is dark but not thick right now. And if I do put sythetic, what kind? Will it make a huge difference of the brand?

After I get the oil changed, I was thinking about maybe getting a new air filter? Fuel filter? I would like to maximize my MPG without spending a ton of money. Its getting about 13-15mpg right now, but also I have been driving it pretty heavy since I got it. All in the city just for reference.

I was speaking to a friend of mine, he said you can get a full fuel system clean type thing. I think its similar to seafoam, maybe. He said depending on how dirty the car is, it'll still put out grey to black smoke. He got it done on his accord last fall at mr lube and said its a purple liquid. Here is right from the mr lube faq:

My car isn't starting or performing like it used to, and I'm getting reduced fuel economy. What does this mean?

Maybe all that's wrong is that your fuel system isn't as clean as it should be. The Mr. Lube Fuel System Cleaning Service cleans and conditions your fuel injectors, intake valves, combustion chambers and exhaust emissions by removing harmful deposits and moisture. This can help reduce hesitation and sluggishness, as well as improve fuel economy.
Any inputs on any of this?

· Registered
658 Posts
Well since winter's in Ontario are chilly ones you should check:

* Oil, if it needs an oil change, and maybe looking into switching into a winter oil in the upcoming months

* Check your antifreeze, maybe it needs to be flushed.
* Plugs/wires, air filter , keep the car running clean and happy
*Check the life on your tires, or @ least pick up a set of winter tires.

Oh and stop being a lead-foot, that'll save you some gas and wear & tear on the vehicle lol.

· Registered
1,493 Posts
first of all welcome to the word of FF you will learn alot on this forum if you check in regularly and read up on what everyone is doing.
now regarding your questions. I dont think i would recommend synthetic oil for two reasons. Number one your car has been running on conventional oil its whole life, in new cars its not really an issue switching back and forth but yours is a 2001 so i would just stick to what its used to. Reason number two is that synthetic oil when hot is generally a little thinner then conventional oil and with an older car that has older seals, might result in a leak. Probably wont but its another thing to consider.
You should probably replace the spark plugs, OEM ones are fine, i had a set of platinums (Actually i will be taken them out soon since i need coppers for my jrsc) and they worked really well, but they were also expensive as hell for just plugs. Also when you remove your plugs, inspect them. make sure they are not super oily or have any white caked on residue. Those can be signs of trouble.
I wouldnt worry about the wires, as long as there are no real issues with the car.
definitely change the air filter and the fuel filter. Who knows how long its been since either has been changed.
the fuel system cleaners.... eh not a huge fan.
make sure your tires are inflated properly and that they have good tread, i would invest in winter tires, you wont regret it.
enjoy your new focus!

· Premium Member
22,770 Posts
OK, standard new car stuff.

I agree with the oil thing, but not for the same reason. Havoline is supposed to be the best of the dino oils according to Amsoil's tests. I can give you a link for that. Havoline (Texaco) doesn't market a synthetic, so those tests are of their regular oil. That's what I use in my van. Ford's synthetic blend is a very good oil, and is plenty durable. The main benefit to synthetic oil is that it will last longer. You can go up to 10k miles without an oil change so long as the oil is not dirty, and you make sure it stays full. Most cars will use 1/2 qt over 10k miles. Amsoil makes synthetics that are good for 25k miles, but as I mentioned earlier- you MUST check the oil level if you use this oil.

Plugs and wires should be replaced. It's up to you to use a standard plug or a platinum plug. Iridium is in the same metal family, and has the same properties as platinum. The benefit to platinum/iridium plugs is that they do not foul, and will last for 100k miles. However, this comes at the expense of greater electrical resistance. You will get a stronger spark with standard plugs that you should change every 15k -20k miles. You should only have to buy plug wires one time for that car. Most parts stores offer a lifetime warranty plug wire- get those. Now this doesn't mean that the plug wires will last forever, it means that you don't have to pay for them again. Next time you feel like changing plugs, buy another set, put the old ones in that box, and return for your money. There is a way to test plug wires, but I would change to lifetime wires on any vehicle that I bought which uses wires.

I'd also change the fuel filter right away. This is an often forgotten regular maintenance part, and does affect fuel economy. We have How-To directions on how to change this on this forum. Go to the first thread in this forum, and look for a link to the "Complete How-To Archive".

Next, I'd clean the MAF using the methods described in our How-To's. MAF cleaner is easiest, but alcohol and a Q-tip is cheapest.

With plugs, wires, a new fuel filter, and a clean MAF you should notice a difference in fuel economy for less than $100- maybe even less than $100 Canadian [thumb]

OH, I'd also flush the radiator before it gets much colder and add anti-freeze afterwards. You can do this yourself if you have access to a garden hose. Simply drain the radiator by disconnecting the lower hose, disconnect the top hose, then stick a garden hose in the top hose. Run water until it's clear, then stick the water hose in the bottom hose, backflush for a while, and stick it back in the top hose. After that, reconnect the hoses, and fill with anti-freeze. I'd also purchase an anti-freeze tester to be sure that the mix in your car was sufficient for the weather where you live. These are usually less than $2.

· Registered
41 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks everyone so far! Really helpful!

I just got my transmission oil/engine oil changed. Tires - Great shape. Will get winter tires soon, just waiting to get a new job as I'm jobless right now and am trying to spend minimal but needed amounts on the car.

Next few things to do, fuel filter, air filter, cabin filter, spark plugs and a friend of mine who's actually in school to become a mechanic recommended new wires. I have stock wires and they definitely look old and he said the new ones will conduct much better. The spark plugs that are on their now, are just dirty and look a bit worn. I would say just in the past from working on boats and stuff that the plugs definitely could use a change.

I'm also going to have to lubricate my back brakes. I have a feeling the back left one is rubbing slightly and definitely taking away from some fuel mileage.

Just as an update. I drove just under 80km (roughly 50miles) and used 1/4 of a tank. Sounds a bit low even for city driving though.

Since I'm going to slowly start modding. Where is the best place to get wires/plugs and everything else? Any specific kinds? Just wanted some opinions. Thanks!
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